QuickMobile a World Leader in Business Apps Development
With each passing day, more and more companies are demanding they have the necessary electronic communications tools to be able to fully integrate their messages to clients. It’s essential not only to be the best, but the first as well. It’s that sort of intense competition which has opened up opportunities for hi-tech software developers to service these corporations – large and small.
QuickMobile, a Vancouver-based software developer founded six years ago by Patrick Payne and Jim Udall, is one such company that has taken full advantage of such opportunities with tremendous success, aided by a current staff of about 110; it’s a number that keeps growing all the time. The company builds interactive, engaging mobile websites and applications for audiences at conferences, trade shows, film festivals and other events. The apps allow event attendees to interact with event organizers, vendors and sponsors through their smartphones and tablets.
We spoke with Payne, who acts as president and CEO. Udall is also a key member of the executive management team serving as chief technology officer.
QuickMobile uses a proprietary platform encompassing the most enterprising tools and technologies, including social media integration, real-time updating, surveys, audio and video streams and game-style incentives to engage mobile consumers. Both Payne and Udall have a long background working with technology prior to the formation of QuickMobile in 2006.
“Back in the late ’90s I had worked for Erickson for five years and I ran their mobile Internet division out of Brussels,” Payne reveals. “I had quite a background in mobile already. I then came to Vancouver in 2002 and started up a company called Mobile Operandi.”
Formation of the Company
In 2006, Payne decided to sell the business and then immediately began more extensive networking with various people in the technology sector and that’s when he met his current business partner Jim Udall.
“He’s a very strong technical person who had sold his company to Nokia,” Payne tells us. “When we met there was a natural affinity and enthusiasm around mobile.”
It seemed like there were definite business synergies between the two men that lead them to believe they should connect – Udall with his strong technical background and Payne, who focuses more on vision, product and strategy.
“We decided to start working together,” Payne continues. “Jim had been working on a mobile research project called Mobile Muse and they were doing all kinds of strange and outlandish projects and I was quite intrigued by some of these very interesting, bizarre things they were doing with mobile phones.”
Payne says the original premise behind the creation of QuickMobile centred around SMS messaging. A major opportunity then presented itself to the company in late 2007 when the iPhone first hit the marketplace.
“We decided this was extraordinary and decided to make a pivot and went into the smartphone application business,” he says.
This was a benchmark in the company’s history that propelled it into the apps market, but in doing so it became clear that in order to be successful, Payne and Udall would have to be able to cover off all the various platforms on vast and varied smartphone market.
“The market requires that you address all the various platforms,” Payne affirms. “In fact, I would say, unlike a lot of companies out there, we’ve already done a lot of work for Microsoft and even their Windows 8 platform that is just being launched. Android and iOS are the two major platforms at the moment. However, certainly I wouldn’t discount BlackBerry quite yet.”
Proprietary App Launch
QuickMobile launched its proprietary mobile application platform in 2009, after two years of development. In its first full year of servicing the meetings and conventions sector, the company recorded more than $1 million in bookings. Last year QuickMobile recorded a more than a 400 per cent increase in bookings.
By improving the experiences of consumers, event attendees and audience members, the company’s clients can boost incremental revenue, marketing ROI and brand loyalty while reducing paper usage. In addition, QuickMobile’s analytics enable clients to better understand their end users’ behaviour and preferences, allowing them to continually improve the marketing, engagement and technology for future events.
QuickMobile is always working to increase its own partnership engagement with the meetings and convention industry. Having robust partners in the industry ensures that QuickMobile has the best insight and key access to the most active and talented meetings and events planners, organizers and brand experience agencies.
Indeed, key partnerships are those with the behind-the-scenes professionals – the event organizers, marketers and suppliers, among others. QuickMobile and its partners leverage each other’s expertise, technology and services in order to cover every aspect of organizing and managing an event.
QuickMobile is heavily involved in the development of mobile websites for the events and conference industry as well. Servicing the various smartphone platforms has been taken care of very efficiently in-house by QuickMobile as Payne mentions.
“We’ve created a platform that allows us to take modules that we’ve created in the various platforms and then just take those modules and pull them together to make unique apps. It’s quite a bit different from our competitors. What they use is sort of a template model. They use sort of one app on all the different platforms and then for a new event they take that template and modify it for that particular event. We break down all the components on say a sponsor list or a speaker list or speaker details and we’ve got more than 30 different components. We just take them and assemble them and basically just pushes a button and they’re already configured for each of the various platforms and those modules get assembled and that’s how we do it.”
Building a Client Base
Customers are corporations, associations and organizations that want to use mobile technology to cultivate engagement and communicate with their audiences at meetings, conventions, film festivals and other events. Current clients include some big hitters including: Accenture, Google, United Nations, World Economic Forum, MPI, Disney, Hilton, Intel, Dell, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, GBTA, Sheraton, Virgin, IMEX, Cisco, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, PIMCO, Target, KPMG, TBS, Ingram Micro, US Bank, ACTE, AHA, Kraft, GMIC, Goodyear, Samsung, ISTE, ILTA and many more.
QuickMobile has designed a framework that allows the company to build apps in a matter of minutes or hours as opposed to weeks and months. Being quick is essential, but substance is every bit as important. With so many companies trying to break into this market, QuickMobile has fast established itself as a leader in the industry, which is plainly evident to see based on some of the impressive list of clients it’s already procured.
“Believe it or not, most of the time they’ve called us,” Payne proudly reveals. “It all started back in May of 2010 when we got a call from Accenture and they told us what they wanted to do. They said they had 175 of their CIOs coming from across the planet and are meeting in Washington D.C. at the Waldorf Astoria. They wanted to give each an iPad with an Accenture app with all the various things at that conference that we want them to be able to do.”
Just one problem – and it was an incredibly big one. The iPad had not yet been released to the public. So for the developers at QuickMobile they had to do the app creation completely in the dark. Needless to say there was a lot of money Accenture was willing to spend on this project to ensure it was done right.
“It was only about a month’s notice that they gave us,” Payne chuckles. “We got everybody in the whole company working on this and we developed this iPad app and the iPad was launched literally about a week before that CIO conference. People showed up, they were handed the iPads and it was really quite a remarkable experience.”
Payne was on hand for the major event in Washington and admits he had some tense moments, concerned that if anything went wrong, it wasn’t going to be pretty. But his fears were quickly allayed and the entire event went off without a hitch. That type of resounding success, with a company as large as Accenture, immediately put QuickMobile on the radar for other top-brand international companies.
“From that we got The World Economic Forum, Disney, Hilton, Microsoft and two or three other companies that came directly from that opportunity,” Payne notes.
When Fortune 500 companies come looking for these types of apps, first and foremost is the credibility of the contracted company – will it be able to produce both high-quality application software and also be on time? QuickMobile’s success with Accenture spawned a domino effect with many other integral companies worldwide.
Emerging Markets & Technology
This past September, QuickMobile completed a $3.3 million round of funding which will be used to expand corporate reach. Payne says the funding will be divided into four main areas of focus. The first is the product set.
“We are launching a whole new tier of products including a recent one known as Snap app which is essentially our flagship product for these Fortune 500 companies who do hundreds if not thousands of meetings every year,” he says.
The second primary focus will be on infrastructure.
“One of the big advantages we have over our competitors is that we’ve done a lot of things like security audits and privacy and built a really robust infrastructure that can actually scale and deliver to the needs of these high-end clients.”
Any company that hopes to continue to grow understands that marketing is always an important aspect to expansion.
“When we get into this new tier of Fortune 500 companies, there’s a new level of marketing that’s required as well, so we’re really planning to invest there.”
Last but not least Payne wants QuickMobile to expand its international presence and take full advantage of the endless opportunities that await them, primarily in Europe and Asia, which undoubtedly will yield the strongest returns.
“We already do a lot of events there,” Payne proudly says. “But we literally don’t have feet on the street there yet. We’re talking about potentially London and Singapore.”
“Our primary focus is going to be on our product because it allows us to be able to scale and it’s the experience we focus on for our customers.”
Snap App and Distribution
Snap app, which is now front and centre, has been an evolution for Payne and the folks at QuickMobile.
It’s hard for Payne to comprehend it was less than two years ago when his company developed the Accenture app. Often it can take years to get traction with many of these major corporations, but the turnaround for QuickMobile is typically more in the range of 30 to 60 days.
It soon became apparent many of these top-end clients were going to be repeat customers, looking for specific apps for what could be thousands of different events over the course of a calendar year. In order to service that type of expectation, QuickMobile came up with Snap app. Companies were looking to have one app created, and then inside it, they could allow their employees to create the individual events, which would save having to build for separate events all the time. It becomes an essential communications tool for businesses, who can incorporate their blog feeds, text files and video.
From a distribution aspect, many of the larger corporations have what’s known as an enterprise licence, meaning they can distribute the apps through their own enterprise, not having to put them on the app store.
“That’s another advantage with Snap app,” Payne remarks. “You only have to download the master app once and it can also be private because they don’t want just anybody downloading that sort of internal app.”
Cost ranges for apps of this nature can range from about $6,000 to $8,000.
“Typically most of our event apps are in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 because a lot of the time people are asking for some more specialized things, but sometimes if it’s really basic it can be lower than that but they can go up to $200,000 for some of them because they may have complicated integration and lots of custom features.”
QuickMobile has set up an efficient scalability system and revenue model for Snap app, ensuring they always are rewarded for their hard work.
“We build that master app and since that is a custom app and usually has different requirements we figure out the scope of a particular project and then we charge them (clients) for that initial master app,” Payne advises. “Then what we do is we say now your non-technical people at your organization can now go and build an app any time that they want. Every time somebody builds an event within that master app then we charge them a sub-licence fee.”
The sub-licence fee can be based on any number of different factors, depending on the desired usage by each individual client. As example, it can be based on the number of attendees at a conference, or volume that they do, so the first 100 may cost x-amount and the next 100 will cost y-amount and so on.
“We have an entire system in the background, which is our analytics and our business intelligence, and that can help them understand what is going on within their organization and certainly within the meetings.”
That means if a company is looking at a new product launch, QuickMobile can design the app so all the information about the users’ tendencies and preferences can be forwarded to the company and used to better target the components that are most popular. It creates an amazing value proposition for these companies and it can all be supplied by QuickMobile.